November 24, 2020


By Alex Holmes, Diana Award Recipient and Deputy CEO, The Diana Award

24 October has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the 5th Anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At a time of great disruption for the world, heightened by an unprecedented global health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with severe economic and social impacts, it’s important to remember that times of struggle can become an opportunity for positive change and transformation.


The United Nations is a truly global organisation, made up of 193 Member States. The mission and work of the United Nations is guided by the belief that all people are equal and entitled to the same respect, justice and human rights.

One of the biggest ways the world can achieve this is through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as The Global Goals. It was in 2015 in New York at the United Nations Headquarters that 193 leaders agreed to come together to achieve these goals, by 2030.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

At The Diana Award we know that young people can change the world. We see this everyday across our Award, Mentoring and Anti-Bullying Programmes. There are currently 1.8 billion young people aged 10-24 and it is these young people who can help the world accelerate the progress of the SDGs.

The Diana Award Anti-Bullying trainers facilitating a workshop during Anti-Bullying Week.

Here are five ways to empower yourself, and young people in particular, to accelerate progress towards these Goals:

1. This year is a very different year for the Global Goals due to COVID-19. Read The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report to find out why

Already in 2020, almost 37 million people have fallen below the $1.90 a day extreme poverty line. Because of COVID-19, extreme poverty has gone up by 5 percent after going down for 20 years continuously. We’ve been set back more than 25 years in about 25 weeks. These newly impoverished people are more likely to be women than men. What the world does in the next few months is going to make a big difference. As an advisor for the foundation, I worked on our 2020 Goalkeepers Report which you can read here to learn what it will take to end the pandemic and get back on track with the Goals.

2. It’s up to us and you first

Find out ten simple actions you can take every day. Download the ActNow App which will give you simple daily recommendations that will contribute to a global count. As of right now, there are 883,676 completed acts and the more people that act, the bigger the impact. Encourage youth to download it here and use it.

3. Teach others about the Sustainable Development Goals

Children and young people can play a part in creating a better world and future for us all. These resources help educators and youth workers teach others about citizenship, justice, climate change and the environment, and how to inspire children to make a difference.

4. Set up a book club to encourage children and young people to read 17 books in 17 months on the 17 Goals

Set up a book club or populate a library or home with these books that encourage children ages 6-12 to understand the SDGs. The list of books is available in all six official UN languages—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

5. Watch and learn Nations United: Urgent Solutions for Urgent Times

Out last month, this free 30-minute film sets out the action needed to build a better world, as COVID-19 threatens a decade of global progress. This is a special, first of its kind film, created by the United Nations to mark five years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Think about screening it with your friends, family or peers.

Alex Holmes at Facebook event.

Alex is a Diana Award recipient, receiving his award in 2004 for his work against bullying. He is also a member of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation advisory board, focusing on their Goalkeepers programme, which brings together leaders from around the world to accelerate progress toward ending poverty and fighting inequality and help the world keep the goals. He is also our Deputy CEO at The Diana Award. Find more information here.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation advisory board.

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